Since the age of the Robber Barons in the late 19th century, Americans have worried about how politicians operate behind citizens’ backs. The cartoon below illustrates suspicions that the wealthy secretly controlled the government, and reformers thought that exposing such machinations would stop them. As soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis wrote in 1913 , “sunlight is the best of disinfectants.”Read more
Cursed by Success: The Vacuum Cleaner Industry
Academics and consultants call it “organizational inertia.” The rest of us say that successful companies decline because they keep doing what used to work for them even after it stops working. In the Summer 2019 issue of Business History Review, Peter Scott, Read more
Feeding the Enemy: Quakers in Germany After World War I
American hostility to Germany did not end with the armistice in 1918. The government and the American Red Cross provided massive amount of aid to alleviate hunger and suffering in allied nations after the war, but would not tolerate help to the enemy. Read more
Race and the Death Penalty in New Orleans: A Surprise
Scholars have documented that, in the early twentieth century, southern courts disproportionately imposed the death penalty on African-American defendants. Yet Jeffrey S. Adler, Professor of History at University of Florida, examined death penalty data for New Orleans between 1920 and 1945, and found that courts there actually sentenced white killers to death at a higher rate than Read more
Dying to Read: Catholics in Elizabethan England
Today, this is just an expression. But in Elizabethan England, it was literally true. In the Summer 2019 issue of Renaissance Quarterly, Mark Rankin, Professor of English at James Madison University, explains.
Before Crazy Horse, Was There a Clothes Horse?
I can’t say I’ve ever heard of anyone by that name. But judging from an article by Mary Ann Levine, Professor of Anthropology at Franklin and Marshall College, in the January 2020 issue of American Antiquity, there might well have been one. “Cloth,” she writes, “was . . . crucial to the colonial experience not only as an object of exchange but Read more